The referendum on Thursday (23) on the UK’s membership to the Europe- an Union is the biggest political decision of a generation.
The result of this vote will decide the future for all of us, so it is not a decision to be taken lightly. I firmly believe, based on all the evidence, that it is in our best interests to remain at the top table of Europe. It is best for the country, so we are strong and prosperous. And it is best for in- dividual citizens, so we have decent jobs, proper rights and opportunities.
I arrived as a child to join my father who had come here to work hard and make a better life for his family. Like millions of others, we came to the UK, not just because of historical ties, but also because of the promise of the future. Over three million jobs are linked to trade with other EU member states, and our membership to the EU allows the UK to be part of the biggest trading bloc in the world – 500 people to trade with across the continent and access to free trade deals with 19 Commonwealth countries. That means more jobs, lower prices for goods, and more prosperity for business.
Our membership of the EU guarantees workers’ rights to holidays, to regular breaks, to maternity and paternity leave, and to be safe where they work. If we left the EU, there would be a bonfire of workers’ rights, and a return to the bad old days of exploitation and uncertainty.
Some have said that if we leave the EU, it will be good for our public services. But the fact is that the NHS relies on doctors and nurses from Spain, France, Ireland and other EU countries. And if the UK goes into a recession after a ‘leave’ vote on Thursday, as the Bank of England predicts, there will be less money to spend on the NHS, schools, police and roads.
Some have claimed that if we leave the EU, it will strengthen our ties to the Commonwealth. Yet many of the issues that matter most to Common- wealth nations such as fair trade, climate change and international crime and terrorism, are best tackled by Britain working with other European countries: for example, securing better trade terms for Pakistan after the floods in 2010 and 2011, or overturning the EU ban on Indian mangoes in 2014. And, after the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, the UK took action with the EU and the International Labour Organisation to ensure better health and safety rights for garment workers.
Lastly, we can’t ignore the fact that lead campaigners in the Vote Leave team include divisive politicians who repeatedly use islamophobic and rac- ist language. A vote to leave the EU is a vote for intolerance and division. It is Britain’s BAME communities who
will once again be at the sharp end of this division if the ‘Leave’ team wins.
We can turn Britain into a small island, hiding behind its walls. Or we can lead in Europe, be a player on the world stage, and be stronger and more united. And this means voting to remain in the EU on Thursday.